Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 415), “Ticker Symbol Mix-ups”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! I hope all of you are doing well! Today’s grid is more fun with anagrams, as the first three entries all feature a word that’s an anagram of “hearts.” The fourth and final theme entry, BREAKING HEARTS, not only is the reveal but might also very well act as an earworm for those Elton John fans who now have a few of his songs playing in your head after answering its clue (60A: [Elton John album with the hit single “Sad Songs”…and an apt title for today’s puzzle]).
- LOVE YOUR HATERS (16A: [___ … because they’re your biggest fans (meme about social media critics)])
- HEARST MAGAZINES (28A: [“Men’s Health” and “Country Living,” e.g.])
- EARTH’S INNER CORE (48A: [The hottest part of our planet])
From the extremely trivial department, solving for LIL’ made me wonder if the other famous rappers with that moniker use the apostrophe at the end of it like she did professionally (41D: [Like rapper Kim]). Alas, both Lil Jon and Lil Wayne do not! Was held up for a little bit when I put in “cart” instead of LIST, as putting in the “t” first in that entry caused me to commit that error initially (41A: [Shopper’s aid, often]). None of the long non-themed entries, while pleasing to look at, did not really stand out today. I did learn, however, that BELUSHI was also an author to go along with his well-known exploits as an actor (1D: [“Real Men Don’t Apologize” author Jim]). Speaking of learning things, I had no idea until right now that QANTAS is the third-oldest airline currently in operation in the world, as it was founded in 1920 (21A: [Airline whose logo features a kangaroo]). Only KLM and Avianca were founded earlier than Qantas and, in terms of continuous service, only Avianca outpaces Qantas. (KLM suspended its service during World War II.). Good to know!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: THON (15A: [Dance-a-____ (fundraiser in a ballroom)]) – One of the saddest things in life, let alone in sports, is to see someone with great potential and promise have their careers cut short and/or their talent(s) robbed from them in their prime, and that’s something that happened to former Major League Baseball infielder Dickie THON, who played in the big leagues from 1979-1993. In 1983, Thon was selected to represent the National League in the All-Star Game and finished seventh in the Most Valuable Player Award voting while with the Houston Astros. At the beginning of the following season, Thon was hit by a pitch in the face that fractured the orbital bone around his left eye. He missed the rest of the 1984 season and, although he came back in 1985, he suffered depth perception problems for the rest of his career and never reached his full potential in the Majors. Kudos to him for being able to play almost another decade after his horrifying injury. Not sure this passes the breakfast test, but here’s a picture of the immediate aftermath of the April 8, 1984 incident. (I’m almost certain that former All-Star outfielder Jose Cruz Sr. is the other Houston Astros player to the right, coming over to Thon’s aid.)
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!!
Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: JACK AND JILL [Rhyme with a broken crown]
24A: ROCKABYE BABY [Rhyme with a broken bough]
31A: LONDON / BRIDGE [With 44-Across, rhyme with a broken span]
51A: HUMPTY DUMPTY [Rhyme with a broken ovoid]
61A: ALL FALL DOWN [1962 Warren Beatty film, and what the title elements of the starred answers do]
I really enjoyed solving this puzzle, and was especially happy to see women like Maya ANGELOU and Nia VARDALOS in such prominent grid positions, along with Yoko ONO and Tori AMOS.
So many thoughts on the theme / construction / cluing!
– What a fun, cohesive theme. My kingdom for a theme set that is this tight and symmetrical in theme lengths. ::chef’s air kiss::
– With ALL FALL DOWN as a revealer and “Look Out Below” as a title, it feels like the theme entries should have be placed going down, not across. Missed opportunity, for sure.
– I’m torn on the cluing of the revealer. Since the title of that 1962 movie is likely based on the nursery rhyme itself, it seems superfluous and random to cite that otherwise unrelated movie when simply citing the well-known nursery rhyme phrase itself would be just as impactful. That said, I really appreciated that revealer.
– I was torn on the cluing of the theme entries, but I’ve come around to them. I like how each clue cites what was broken in the respective falls.
Random ?!? moments:
– There was a missed opportunity to pair 6A’s [Exam for future docs] MCAT with something like [Exam rooms for future docs?] for ERS.
– Isn’t the phrase un momento, not UNO MOMENTO? This felt awkward to plunk in.
– Isn’t the term Malay or Malaysian, not MALAYAN? This felt less common to me.
– I had to look up DIABOLO – I never knew this yo-yo thing was called that. Fun!
– Having [ADHD drug] RITALIN and [It may make you a better person] for PILL right next to each other felt … judgmental, or awkward at the very least.
– 63D: Not every DOE wants a buck. Most probably do, but not all of them do. Check out this wiki article on same-sex animal behaviors to see how widely documented these behaviors are. For whatever reason, clues like these make me feel :/ every time.
Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Simple yet surprisingly fresh theme, focusing on the number 42:
- 18a. [What the computer Deep Thought was programmed to figure out in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”], THE MEANING OF LIFE. I’ve never read the book, but I know it says that 42 is the meaning of life. There’s also some malarkey about a towel.
- 37a. [Hall-of-Fame player whose number has been retired by every team in Major League Baseball], JACKIE ROBINSON. Not only was his jersey number 42, but the 2013 biopic starring Chadwick Boseman was called 42.
- 56a. [He served between Bush 41 and Bush 43], PRESIDENT CLINTON, the 42nd President.
- 42a. [<- What this is for this puzzle], THEME. The revealer clue, pointing to the clue number.
Two thumbs up for the theme.
Five more things:
- 5d. [Cereal brand with a weight-loss challenge], SPECIAL K. I ignore that aspect. I just like the Red Berries variety with dried strawberries.
- 35d. [Snicker sound], TEHEE. My pick for worst entry in the whole puzzle. I accept only the tee-hee spelling.
- 37d. [Place to solve a crossword, maybe], JOHN. I wonder how many crosswords are solved in public restroom stalls each day.
- 54d. [Obsessive fan, in modern slang], STAN. This derives from the Eminem song, “Stan,” about a creepy fan. It’s also used as a verb. One might say “I stan Elizabeth Warren,” with no connotation of actually being an obsessive creep, or one might deride someone as being a stan. I first encountered the usage during the 2016 primaries, when people on Twitter used the term “Berniestans.” It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t about countries ending with -stan!
- In conclusion: 3d. [“Peace out”], “SEE YOU LATER.”
4.25 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Eighteen Again” – Derek’s write-up
Ah, to be 18 again … I am nearly three times that age! But that is the theme, and not the first time that Matt has marked a milestone of his Jonesin’ with a clever theme. The puzzle is now 18 years old, and so far is standing the test of time, even through the slow death of newspapers all over. And the age of 18 plays prominently in the clues for the longer answers:
- 17A [“Great” Macedonian king who had his first military victory at age 18] ALEXANDER
- 36A [At age 18, she got her ideas for “Frankenstein” during a summer stay in Geneva] MARY SHELLEY
- 43A [“Little Sure Shot” who was an accomplished sharpshooter at age 18] ANNIE OAKLEY
- 64A [Hundred Years’ War leader captured by French nobles at age 18] JOAN OF ARC
So we have several famous people who accomplished quite a bit by age 18. I know I still haven’t accomplished these kinds of tasks, and as I mentioned, I am WELL past 18. I suppose that is why they are famous! For some reason, my timer never started, so I have no idea how long it took me to solve this; perhaps 4 minutes or so? Let’s go with that! Here’s to another 18 years of puzzles, Matt! 4.4 stars for this one.
A few more things:
- 20A [Budapest’s river] DANUBE – I hear Budapest is quite the town. Consider it on my bucket list!
- 21A [___ Nas X] LIL’ – I don’t know this rapper, and I only assume this is a rapper.
- 67A [NASCAR course shape] OVAL – I literally JUST watched Days of Thunder, the NASCAR movie from way back in 1990. I should have kept putting it off, as it was horrid.
- 3D [“The L Word” creator/producer Chaiken] ILENE – I don’t know this person, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good crossword fodder. Is this show still on?
- 7D [Former “The Voice” judge ___ Green] CEELO – Everybody is taking a turn on this show. My turn is in 2020!
- 25D [Former French first lady ___ Bruni-Sarkozy] CARLA – I believe she is still married to the former president of France. They have been married since 2008.
- 55D [“The Smartest Guys in the Room” company] ENRON – This is the title of a book about these cheating buffoons, who I believe are still in prison. If not they should be.
- 61D [___ Connect (super-brainy BBC game show)] ONLY – Brian and Ryan mention this show a lot on the Fill Me In podcast, but I have never seen this show. I think there are YouTube clips of it, but I have other YouTube vids I get lost in. Perhaps I will make time for one or two!
I could go on, but I will stop here. Another Jonesin’ next week.
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Not too bad of a Downs Only solve on this puzzle, but when you cannot get answers of Down clues that are 8 or 9 letters long, you are in for trouble, and that is what happened to me. I did figure out the theme this time, and the revealer is the last theme entry at 56A. Here are those theme entries, and some of these clues I am seeing for the first time here!
- 17A [*Ingratiate oneself (with)] CURRY FAVOR
- 24A [*Hardly cutting-edge] OLD SCHOOL
- 36A [*Last stage of a chess match] ENDGAME
- 46A [*Joke payoff] PUNCH LINE
- 56A [Oscar night celebration … and where to find the ends of the answers to starred clues] AFTER PARTY
So we have the ends of each of the first four themers that can follow the word “party,” as in party favor, party school, party game, and party line, the latter featuring prominently in the news these days. Nicely done. I am not as smooth as Andy Kravis yet, but still a nice puzzle! 4.2 stars from me.
Some of my favorite Downs:
- 1D [Brew for an early night] DECAF – What’s the use? I think I sleep better with some caffeine late at night!
- 6D [Mama bear, in Madrid] OSA – Not as common as the masculine OSO, but still common. Is there any other way to clue this?
- 11D [Name in Japanese WWII propaganda] TOKYO ROSE – The first of the 9-letter entries I struggled with. I got it in my head that this was the emperor at the time, but I know good and well those are usually 8-letters long!
- 31D [Japanese seaport] OTARU – I had OSAKA here, and that was obviously wrong. This seems too hard for a Tuesday.
- 32D [Group often threatened in dystopian fiction] HUMAN RACE – That other 9-letter Down that gave me issues. I so wanted to put in TEENAGERS, because it seems like a lot of these movies are kids doing the world-saving!
- 35D [Salon sound] SNIP – It isn’t AAAH?
- 42D [Like most phone cards] PREPAID – Does anyone use these anymore? I suppose they work for burner phones still, but I have never used one, so this seems dated even though they are all over the card section at the store.
- 51D [“This I Promise You” band] *NSYNC – This isn’t 98 Degrees? I get them confused!
Have a great week!
Evan Kalish’s Universal Crossword, “Wanna Bet?”—Jim Q’s write-up
Stakes are high in today’s Universal! Evan Kalish brings us a poker-themed puzzle.
THEME: Phrases that start with words used for betting in poker.
- 16A [British drama with nurses and nuns] CALL THE MID
- 24A [Do a car maintenance task] CHECK THE OIL.
- 51A [Increase standards] RAISE THE BAR.
- 59A [Archie Bunker’s sitcom] ALL IN THE FAMILY.
- 37A [Game suggested by the starred answers’ starts] POKER.
Nifty, straightforward theme, though I wish CALL had come after RAISE. It does seem like there are an awful lot of possibilities of phrases that begin with these words. I’m surprised I can’t recall seeing this theme before since it makes such a nice, cohesive set.
Did anyone need any of the crossings for 59A [Archie Bunker’s sitcom]? I feel like we should be challenged just a tiny bit more when it comes to theme answers (as opposed to regular fill). That was a dead giveaway.
Nothing wrong with the fill here! That’s to be expected in a Kalish puzzle. Nice job, Evan!
Not quite right re: Hitchhiker’s Guide. “42” was the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything. But no one in the series ever figured out what, exactly, the question was that “42” was the answer to.
So the puzzle kinda whiffs on referencing that gag.
Amy, I assumed you are a frood who really knows where her towel is.
Disagree that the puzzle whiffs with respect to Hitchhiker’s Guide. You can find my thoughts here: http://scrabbledamon.blogspot.com/
An unconvincing argument. The clue would have been much better with a Monty Python reference.
Well I guess the Python movie wouldn’t lead me to 42. oops!
On the other hand, Douglas Adams did have something to say about the meaning of Liff.
WSJ: A great Tuesday puzzle! Responding to Nate: Malayan refers to a person of Malay ethnicity, while a Malaysian is a citizen of Malaysia; there are Chinese and Indian, as well as Malayan, Malaysians.
Correct. National Geographic has a style entry.
A minor note about today’s Universal puzzle: the theme is a bit more nuanced than just phrases that begin with poker betting terms… The phrases are all specifically in the form “[poker betting term] THE …” — for added coherence / consistency. So “raise a glass” and “check, please” were out for this puzzle :-)
Using TV show titles for two of the four themers set up an expectation that all four should’ve been. That being impossible, perhaps none should’ve been.
I respect you as constructor and I hope I haven’t offended you; just letting you know that that inconsistency was thorny.
Point taken. Once All in the Family was fixed (a must), the options I perceived for that first entry were limited (“call the doctor,” “call the police” were 13 apiece; they got more green paint-y from there).
WSJ: Dull theme, and really not OK for two of the three 1st-row entries to be glue: MCAT and ERS.